To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I've been thinking about this:

Thousands of Katrina Victims Evicted

Some verbiage from the article:

Hauling everything he owned in a plastic garbage bag, Darryl Travis walked out of the chandeliered lobby of the Crowne Plaza, joining the exodus of Hurricane Katrina refugees evicted from their hotel rooms across the country Tuesday.

The occupants of more than 4,500 government-paid hotel rooms were ordered to turn in their keys Tuesday, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency began cutting off money to pay for their stays.


Travis, 24, and his five childhood friends all in their 20s had been living on the floor of another evacuee's hotel room, never having registered.

"All I got is a couple pairs of pants and some shirts. The pressure is on," said Jonathan Gautier, 26, one of the six, who was also carrying a single plastic bag filled with clothes.

After what, 6 months, the pressure is now on?

Since this article came out almost two weeks ago, I've had a few thoughts.

There were families who came to Memphis right after the hurricane. The paper had articles about them being helped by various churches and so forth, to get some kind of housing, jobs, their kids in school, while they worked out what they needed to do. Lots of people's employers helped. Some are living in their houses as they fix them up, or in trailers if their houses aren't livable yet. Plenty of people apparently decided enough was enough, have permanently moved elsewhere and are going on.

And then you have these people who apparently are taking it one day at a time. As long as they eat and have somewhere to lay their head, they are taking no responsibility and are not looking to the future at all.

I suppose FEMA was and is trying to do the right thing. It's also possible that spending billions of dollars on post-Katrina efforts (when it's no longer an emergency) seemed the best thing in light of the mostly-undeserved black eye it got immediately after the disaster, and if that's the reasoning, somebody needs to get their butt kicked.

Because before you give somebody money to help them get back on their feet, you need to find out if they were on their feet to begin with. These people clearly have no coping skills whatsoever, and most likely never have had. Spending half a year sleeping on a hotel floor did nothing for these healthy young people. Not for their self-esteem (she said seriously), not for their welfare, not for their future, not for their ability to be productive citizens, which is an obligation we all have. It must be an obligation, because while I am willing for my tax dollars to go to helping people, I am never asked if I want them to.

The condition of Travis and his friends is such that the hurricane might as well have happened yesterday.

I hate it when people play Monday-morning quarterback, but I'm going to anyway: There needed to be some triage when those hotel rooms started being paid for. Some control, because apparently a bunch of people were squatting in those hotels and FEMA didn't even know it (but if there's damage I'm sure the gov't will be billed for it). Some of these people clearly needed some kind of counseling as to how you get and keep a job, rent an apartment, and other things that healthy young grown-ups in America ought to expect to do. It was a WASTE of the refugees' time and of taxpayers' money to allow this situation to go on so many MONTHS after that wretched hurricane. No one was helped by this. They might as well have not bothered.

No comments: